Volume. XXXIII, No. 6
Sunday, 05 August 2018

The Empowered Christian (Mark 9: 14 – 29) – Part 2

(This edited message was preached by Elder Colin Gan on The Lord’s Day 10 June 2018.)

In Part 1 Elder Colin began a study into this passage and reflected on empowerment and disempowerment in the Christian life by looking into the different characters involved in this event, firstly the crowd and the scribes. Today will continue with the remaining characters.

  1. The father

When I consider the father, I see someone who is seeking. He has a need and is desperate to have his need met - his son is demon possessed and the demon has often tried to destroy his son, and his need is to have his son healed. The father must have saved his son's life numerous times and there seems no end in sight to the sufferings upon his son, and himself as well. If we have ever been in the place of a carer, we can understand how tiring and exhausting caring for someone who is totally dependent can be. Here it was not for a day or two, but for years; ever since the father's son was a child. For us who are parents, how heart breaking and depressing it would be to see our child tormented before our eyes day after day, and year after year, while there is nothing we can do to alleviate their suffering. In such helpless situations many of us would wish that we could exchange places with our child. How the father is suffering. It might be that the father has tried many possibilities and now he is at his wits’ end; he is running out of possibilities. But then he hears of Jesus, the great teacher, the miracle worker, the healer, and as a man clutching at straws, he drags his son with him hoping to bring him to Jesus, but Jesus is not there. Never mind, Jesus' Disciples are there and maybe they can help (the father thinks, since they have been healing people in some of the towns as well), and so regardless he approaches them with some hope; but disappointingly the Disciples are unable to help.

And then Jesus approaching the crowd asks the Scribes why they are contending with His Disciples. The father then relates to Jesus how His Disciples could not cast out the demon possessing his son, which by implication casts doubts upon Christ's ability as well. Yet, Jesus does not reject the father, but asks him to bring his son to Him. Jesus then says to the father "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." The father has faced many failures, and especially the recent failure with the Disciples, so much so that he is now not sure how much belief he has; doubt has set in as to whether Jesus can actually heal his son. But the father realising how little a faith he has, cries out with tears of desperation, "help thou mine unbelief!"

The initial state of the father is like those who come to Christ because they realise they have a need, but they are not empowered because they allow their faith in Christ to remain small.

My friends, are we seeking to have our needs met? Then seek Christ first. Matthew 6:33 tells us, "... seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Whoever comes to Christ, He says in John 6:37, "... him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Christ did not reject the father in his disbelief, and neither will He reject us if we come to Him with our little faith.

If we are like the father, then seek Christ with our needs. Though our faith may be small, cry out to Him for greater faith that we might be empowered to face our challenges in living a Christian life. Remember the words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 7:7, "... Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:"

  1. The son

The son has only a supporting, non-speaking role in this drama. Nothing much is known about him save that he was demon possessed from childhood. We don't know how he became demon possessed, but we know that if the Holy Spirit is residing in us, then we cannot be demon possessed "... because greater is he that is in [us], than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4). As Christians, "... [our] body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in [us], which [we] have of God ..." (1 Corinthians 6:19); and the Holy Spirit is the source of our empowerment in living the Christian life. Without Him, there will be no power to live a transformed life in Christ.

So, the son reminds me that if we do not have the Holy Spirit in us, then there is no empowerment possible. In fact, we become open to evil influences and demon possession whether we realise this or not, whether we wish it or not.

  1. The Disciples

As Christians, we ought to be disciples of Christ, and so the Disciples represent us Christians. However, though the Disciples followed and listened to Jesus, they were still powerless. They are like Christians coming to Church every week but are no longer empowered because over time their once noble attitudes of being disciples of Christ have become jaded and compromised.

Even when we know that we ought to walk in faith, there are times when Jesus' words fill us with guilt - "... O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? ..." (Mark 9:19).

Even as Christians, there are times we fail to live up to Christ's expectations. Maybe we have become complacent with our Christian life, or going about our lives in our own strength, or being too busy to spend time with God, or being distracted by the world, and such things that draw us away from our first love.

But where the Disciples failed in casting out the demon, they did not make excuses for their failure; when they were rebuked by Christ, they did not get upset with Christ or turn away from Him. Instead, they humbled themselves and asked Christ for the reason; they sought answers from the source of all knowledge and truth. With such an attitude, Christ could teach them, and He explained that, "... This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." (Mark 9:29).

Should we not have the same attitude to be humble and teachable, and realise that God rebukes or chastises us out of love in order to mould us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ? If we are to live an empowered Christian life, we need to have the right attitude before God and understand how He is moulding us. Always remain with Christ.

  1. Faith is Essential for Empowerment (vv. 22b-27)

From the passage, we know that faith is essential for empowerment because Jesus Himself said that "... all things are possible to him that believeth." (v.23). But faith in what, in whom, and how? Does it matter? Yes, it does, because the object of our faith must be able and capable of delivering that which we are seeking to believe in. The father came to Jesus and His Disciples because he believed that they could heal his demon-possessed son.

It may be that we feel that there is nothing that can help us to live empowered Christian lives; it may be because we are trying so hard and it is not easy to keep going in our own strength. I have always believed that the lasting transformation of a person to Christlikeness can only be achieved with the Holy Spirit; without whom, the transformation is only a shadow of what it seeks to be, temporal and pretentious. Like the father, we need to have faith in Jesus Christ; He who not only has power over evil, but has saved us from our sins, and has put in each one of us His Holy Spirit.

This Jesus is the Creator of all creation - John 1:1-4 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." Being the Creator of all things, all creation must eventually fall down before Him and obey His commands; and such is evidenced by the adverse and violent reaction of the evil spirit when it laid eyes on Jesus, and how it could not but obey the voice of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ when He commanded, "... Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him." (Mark 9:25). Our Creator is able and capable to help us in our times of need. So dear friends, if you have not put your faith in Him yet, will you not do so today?

Then we may ask how much faith must we have in Jesus? Well, not much is required to start with. Like the father in the story who realises just how little was his faith compared with the greatness of his doubts, we too might look at our own lives and abilities and say, "It's impossible for me to be an empowered Christian." But will we too be like the father, who in his anguish and desperation cries out to Jesus. "... help thou mine unbelief." (v.24).

From the related parallel text of this account in Matthew 17:20 Jesus said, "... verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." So, this is an assurance that our small faith is not a hindrance to start living an empowered Christian life. But, even as I'm sure the father's faith increased after witnessing Jesus casting out the demon from his son, so our faith will increase each time we see the Holy Spirit transforming us bit by bit through the process of sanctification.

Now, after the evil spirit had sorely abused the son one last time as it departed the body, the son was as one who was dead. How gently the Lord then takes his hand and raises him up again. Though we may be afflicted with the worst of trials or sorrows, in the wallowing darkness of despair the light of deliverance shines through and the touch of our dear Saviour restores us to life again. Such is the power we have in Christ.


To be continued…

More Lively Hope



  • Deepest sympathy to Sis Siew Ling Teh & family on the passing away of her mother in Kedah, Malaysia.
  • Special thanks to all fellowship groups, ministries & committees for their cooperation in preparing reports for the Annual Congregation Meeting.
  • Those who have completed their BBK course & would like to be baptised, re-affirmed or transfer their membership, please see any of the Session members.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: AFG. Next week: VFG.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • ACM
  • Sister Sarah Lo’s missions work (Bangladesh).
  • Journey mercies:  Those who have travelled.



  • Healing: Dr Stephen Scott-Pearson (UK); Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev George van Buuren; & others in afflictions.
  • God’s comfort in their grief: Sis Siew Ling Teh & family.
  • Missions: IBPFM (Rev Keith Coleman, staff & missionaries).
  • New pastor for Hope BPC.
  • Year 12 students as they prepare for exams.
  • Journey mercies:  Those who are travelling.




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